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Champions League Review: Roma didn’t have the right mental approach

updated-champions-league-trophyAlessandro Florenzi has called for a swift change in Roma’s mental approach after their 3-2 humbling by BATE Borisov in group E of the UEFA Champions League. The Italian giants travelled to Belarus hoping to build on a hard-fought 1-1 draw with Barcelona in their opener, only to concede three quick-fire goals at the Borisov-Arena inside the opening half hour. Rudi Garcia’s men reduced the arrears twice in a far improved second half, but the damage was done and IGiallorossi suffered a defeat that sent them bottom of the pool.

Florenzi, who hit a stunning goal from near the halfway line to secure a share of the spoils against the Catalans, lamented Roma’s lack of consistency and the completely wrong mental approach.

“We have to improve this aspect because, more than anything, we lost this game with our heads,” he said. “In the sense that we all failed to emerge from the dressing room for the first half.

“I think we’re better than BATE, and if we had prepared better it would ended much better for us and worse for them. The fact is, we just didn’t have the right mental approach. Otherwise we wouldn’t have conceded two goals in the space of ten minutes.”

After a morale-boosting 5-1 league win over Serie A newcomers Carpi at the weekend, Roma should have been firing on all cylinders. Instead – missing Francesco Totti, Edin Dzeko, Seydou Keita, Antonio Rudiger and Kevin Strootman through injury – they were mostly notable for their chaotic defending.

BATE Borisov took the lead when Mikhail Gordeichuk hit the underside of the bar and Igor Stasevich nodded in the rebound. Moments later Roma goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny, playing his first game since suffering a hand injury against Barcelona, was caught out of position allowing Filip Mladenovic to surprise him from 30 metres out. Roma had a series of half chances, but BATE looked dangerous throughout and confirmed their threat when Mladenovic burst into the box to smash a vicious drive under the bar from the tightest of angles.

Roma hit back in the second half when Gervinho, who on Saturday scored his first league goal since November 2014, ran on to Iago Falque’s through ball to strike from close range. Mohamed Salah then spurned a great chance in front of goal, the Egyptian ballooning over from just inside the box on 73 minutes. BATE had their backs to the wall and, when Lucas Digne did well to keep possession deep on the left, the Frenchman fired in a cross that went past Gervinho into the path of defender Vasilis Torosidis, who fired home from six yards. Roma spurned two late chances to level when Florenzi’s curling drive smacked off the underside of the crossbar and then Gervinho could only aim a weak finish at the goalkeeper.

Garcia demands result against Bayer
Roma now sit two points behind BATE and Bayer Leverkusen and three adrift of leaders Barcelona. Garcia admitted Roma had “completely messed up” the first 45 minutes against the Belarusians, but preferred to see the glass more half full than half empty ahead of their next fixture, away to Bayer Leverkusen on 20 October.

He said: “We’re only two matches into the group and we still have four left to play: now we need to get a result against Bayer.”